6 mins

Adopting application templates in your engineering org can lead to increased efficiency, collaboration, and innovation.

Managing software development teams can be like conducting an orchestra: each member plays a crucial role, but without a clear plan and strong leadership, the result can be chaotic. 

Similarly, software development demands a delicate balance of efficient workflows, adherence to best practices, and seamless collaboration across diverse skill sets. These demands often leave teams stretched thin, hindering innovation and agility. 

Application templates are powerful tools within a larger platform designed to streamline application management and unleash your development team’s potential. 

Decoding the DNA of application templates 

Application templates are tools that help streamline the setting up of new projects, ingraining best practices into the fabric of the codebase, and ensuring consistency. They act as standardized blueprints, automating the development process and ensuring adherence to company-recommended best practices. 

By eliminating the need for the kind of workarounds and hacks often found in independently built applications, templates offer a streamlined approach to the development lifecycle, fostering consistency, and accelerating time-to-market.

Here are some common building blocks for an application template:

  • Standardized web frameworks such as Flask in Python or Spring Boot.
  • Uniform linting libraries and configurations.
  • CI/CD methodologies, including deployment strategies, artifact publishing scripts for tools like Jenkins jobs, or GitHub Actions for consistency.
  • Logging and tracing with standardized formatting for operational insights.
  • Company-specific libraries where applicable to ensure streamlined development with things like libraries for pulling the latest site configurations.

What application templates enable you to do

  • Automation powerhouse: Templates automate the tedious and repetitive aspects of project setup, such as generating boilerplate code, configuring build systems, and establishing testing frameworks. This frees up developers to focus on the creative and challenging aspects of software development. 
  • Ensures adherence to best practices: Templates protect coding standards, security protocols, and architectural best practices by embedding them directly into the project foundation. This certifies consistency and quality across all projects, regardless of the team or individual developer involved. 
  • Building blocks of innovation: Imagine templates as Lego blocks for your software development journey. They offer pre-assembled, standardized components such as a Spring Boot application template equipped with default settings for logging, built-in CI/CD best practices, and tracing-enabled routing tailored to your company’s pipelines. These templates can be assembled and personalized to craft a diverse range of applications, significantly reducing development cycles and nurturing innovation.

These elements all marry together to guarantee a project’s smooth sailing. Imagine you are launching a new microservices project. Traditionally, each team would embark on the arduous journey of independently setting up development environments, CI/CD pipelines, and infrastructure – a recipe for inconsistencies, delays, and frustration. 

Application templates eliminate this bottleneck by automating the generation of standardized project structures pre-loaded with essential libraries, security protocols, and coding standards, acting as a launchpad for success. 

Reaping the rewards of templated development 

Though templates are instrumental in ensuring efficiency, they also cultivate a culture of quality, security, and collaboration within your engineering organization. By embedding best practices directly into the project foundation, you ensure consistency and adherence to standards across all teams and projects. 

Let’s delve into the key advantages: 

  • Accelerated project kick-off: Templates can dramatically reduce project setup time, allowing teams to hit the ground running and focus on delivering value from day one. This allows the team to concentrate on developing domain-specific business logic, rather than dealing with deployment or mundane operational tasks. This translates into faster time-to-market, giving you a competitive edge. 
  • Building a culture of quality: Quality should never be an afterthought. This ensures code style adherence, minimizing errors and reducing the burden of code reviews. 
  • Breaking down silos: Isolated teams and fragmented knowledge often result in wasted time reinventing the wheel through duplicated efforts or in activities that could be standardized across projects, such as canary deployment procedures. These challenges are a significant impediment to efficient software development. Shared template structures encourage collaborative development, breaking down these barriers and fostering knowledge sharing. This leads to reduced redundancy, improved code quality, and increased developer efficiency as teams learn from each other and build upon shared best practices. 
  • Simplified onboarding: Bringing new developers up to speed can be a time-consuming process. Templates offer a clear roadmap of your organization’s coding standards and preferred tools, allowing new hires to become productive contributors quickly and seamlessly integrate into the team. 

These advantages culminate in improved team performance, freeing developers from repetitive setup tasks and empowering them to focus on creative problem-solving and innovation – the lifeblood of a thriving software development organization. 

Navigating the challenges of template adoption 

Application templates are incredibly beneficial for a business, but their implementation can come with challenges.  Like any organizational change, careful planning, communication, and ongoing support is required to ensure successful adoption. 

Let’s address some common challenges and how to overcome them: 

  • Customization needs: One size rarely fits all. Ensuring that templates are flexible enough to accommodate the unique requirements of different projects while maintaining consistency is crucial. Achieving this involves continuously refining templates based on feedback from development teams and evolving business requirements. This iterative process can be facilitated through ticketing systems such as Jira or forums like hackathons, which serve to identify pain points for teams. Establishing clear communication channels and feedback loops is essential for achieving a balanced approach that harmonizes standardization with flexibility.
  • Initial setup and learning curve: Adopting any new tool or process comes with a learning curve. The initial setup and training of teams on new template-driven workflows can be a hurdle. Mitigating this requires providing thorough documentation, comprehensive training programs, and dedicated support channels to address any questions or roadblocks encountered by development teams. 
  • Resistance to change: Humans are creatures of habit, and developers are no exception. Teams accustomed to their own workflows and tools might resist adopting standardized templates. To tackle this issue, engage team members in the creation of templates right from the start, actively seek their input, and integrate template usage into core workflows like an internal project management dashboard or enabling git template workflow. Teams tend to choose the path of least resistance, so integrating templates into project management workflows or simplifying the process of initializing and updating them can greatly increase their adoption.
  • Maintaining up-to-date templates: The software development landscape is constantly evolving, with new technologies, frameworks, and best practices emerging all the time. Keeping templates up to date is therefore an ongoing task. Define clear ownership and implement a structured process for regular reviews and updates that align with the company’s technology adoption curve. Engage technical leads and developers in this process to ensure templates stay pertinent, efficient, and in line with the organization’s evolving requirements.. 

Embracing the power of templated development 

The journey towards a template-driven development approach, while not without its challenges, holds immense potential for engineering leaders and managers. By embracing application templates, organizations can improve their efficiency, consistency, and collaboration, ultimately leading to exceptional software delivery and a more empowered and engaged development team. 

The key to success lies in approaching template adoption as a continuous improvement process – tailoring templates to your organization’s unique needs, actively soliciting feedback from development teams, and continuously refining them based on evolving requirements.